Tchaikovsky wrote relatively little chamber music. Three string quartets, the Piano Trio and the Sextet form the bulk of his chamber music, and all the quartets date from before his 40th year. He had attempted a quartet as early as 1865, and the expansive opening movement is all that remains, and it is included in this set.
The Quartet No.1 created quite a stir at its premiere in 1871, not only because the audience included the great novelist Turgenev, but also due to the fact that it was actually the first string quartet by a Russian composer. The second movement, Andante cantabile, has become one of the composer’s best loved tunes, and when Tolstoy heard it some five years after the premiere he was moved to tears. Interestingly Tchaikovsky used a traditional folk song tune that has some especially trite words about a drunk tempting a maiden to bed! The Third Quartet has a grief-stricken slow movement with a specially memorable melody, written as a tribute to the Czech violinist Ferdinand Laub who had died in 1875. Laub had taken part in the premieres of the First and Second Quartets and had become a close friend of the composer. The great String Sextet dates from 1890, just after Tchaikovsky had completed his opera The Queen of Spades – he was exhausted and under great pressure. Although written when the composer was in Florence, the work is a truly Russian one, with little or no Italian influences. This 2CD set is rounded off with some early works for string combinations, all dating from 1873/4. They are all delightfully melodic and charming.
Tchaikovsky: String Quartet #1 In D, Op. 11, "Accordion" - 1. Moderato E Semplice